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Date: 07 Jun 2019 Author Type: Public Review
Author: Julian Lurie Edited by Liam Mothilall
I recently spent a few days with the all-new Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription Geartronic with all its electronic wizardry and equipped with just about everything that opens and shuts, and if what you are looking for is not on the standard list you’ll in all probably find it in the options list.

Volvo calls the T8 a “Twin-Engine” because it retains the 2-litre 235 kw 5 700 rpm and 400 Nm turbo­charged and supercharged four-cylinder in line petrol powered engine of the XC90 plus the 65 Kw 240 Nm rear axle electric motor (ERAD) that sits between the petrol engine and the XC90’s eight-speed automatic transaxle. Total system output is 300 kw of power and 640 Nm of torque. Clever packaging from Volvo has resulted in the 9.2 kWh battery being positioned in the tunnel that runs through the middle of the floorpan, so the standard luggage space/7-seat configuration remains.

My first time behind the wheel was to get acquainted with the T8 Twin Engine “tablet” style user interface state of the art touch screen and other buttons, which looked somewhat complicated, but after a few minutes I found it wasn’t as difficult to fathom out as expected. The XC90 T8 has got five drive modes (Pure, Hybrid, Power, All Wheel Drive, Off-road), and although during testing I had tried all five modes I basically found it best to just leave it in Hybrid mode, where it uses a mix of petrol and electric power.

The electric motor in the T8 drives the rear wheels while the petrol motor sends drive to the front wheels. In “Pure” mode the T8 “Twin Engine” runs on electric power only up to 125 km/h while “Power” mode will deliver maximum performance from both power-plants. However the battery life was far shorter than expected. A nice feature with the battery is that you can charge it from a conventional 3-pin 15 amp plug, which, I was told would fully charge the battery in 3 hours to give it a range of up to 43 kms. I put it on charge for four hours after which the read-out showed the range at 35 kms. After the charge I took it easy on the accelerator to see if I could get further than the 35 kms, but at just 21 kms the electric motor showed that I was down to zero, and the petrol engine seamlessly kicked in. However when the petrol engine operated on its own, the digital readout showed a fuel consumption of around 12 litres per 100 km, which was a bit disappointing. The tank holds 50 litres.

According to Volvo the driving range is affected by a number of external factors including power demand from the vehicle, ambient temperature, driving style and road conditions. When only the front wheels are driven, selecting “B” mode will make the T8 use the petrol engine to recharge the battery, adding about eight kms of electric range. You can also lock it into four-wheel drive, while Hold mode allows you to lock the current battery level for later use. The Volvo XC90 T8 is packed with standard features which includes Active Bending LED headlights with active high beam and “Thor’s hammer” signature DRL, solid made Orrefors crystal gear selector, powered tail-gate, 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster, a 9-inch Sensus Connect touch screen infotainment system, electric front seats, Nappa soft leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control, Pilot Assist for semi-autonomous driving, front and rear parking sensors, 4-zone automatic climate control, full length panoramic sunroof, GPS and the press vehicle was fitted with sporty 10-spoke alloy wheels shod with 275/45R20Michelin low profile tyres.

The press vehicle was fitted with R77 875 worth of options comprising a premium pack for R65 000 which added heated front seats, head-up display, Bowers and Wilkins audio system, 360 degree camera, BLIS, and keyless entry, while a further R12 875 will get you metallic paint, black headliner and a compass in the rear view mirror. Volvo has always been a leader in terms of safety and the XC90 Twin Engine is no exception. It comes with 7 airbags, pedestrian and cyclist detection, run-off-road mitigation with impact-absorbing seats, auto brake at intersections for oncoming traffic, front collision warning with auto brake, lane departure warning and road sign information and has achieved a 5-star Euro NCap rating.

In the stopping department the XC90 has disc brakes at all four wheels with ABS, EBD, BAS, HAS HDC, stability and traction control all of which will assist in keeping the driver out of trouble. The spacious cabin with natural-looking wood and absolutely lovely leather will accommodate the driver and four passengers in supreme comfort and the large boot will swallow all the luggage. Once you get used to the starting procedure and the readout shows ready you pull off with no started motor heard and the XC90 just glides away. The hybrid seemed a sure bet to dazzle us with its grunt, and delivered better acceleration than expected sprinting to 100 km/h in a very quick 5.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 230 km/h. The XC90 T8 is a very good cruiser around the city or on the freeways, and road noise and imperfections were very well controlled. There is some body-lean in fast cornering, but not uncomfortably so. I found that for quick overtaking it was better to select Sport mode, but other than that I found the hybrid setting to be best as it makes the drive smoother and is better on fuel.

The 4-cylinder 2-litre petrol engine is a little noisy under acceleration, but once up to speed, the cabin is quiet enough for normal conversation as to be expected from a luxury cruiser. Volvo has produced a brilliant car in the XC90 as proven by its sales, but I’ve been asked – is the Hybrid worth the extra money? My answer is you try it and decide.

The Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription is priced from R1 148 900 but the press vehicle was fitted with R77 875 worth of options so the price as tested was R1 226 775 which includes a 5-year/100 000 km warranty and a 5-year/100 000 km full maintenance plan.
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